to Sarah Watts
(2018) duration 14:20
When Sarah asked me to compose a work for her ‘beast’ – as she calls her new contrabass – I was struck by its range of timbre and colour, its flexibility in dynamic, agility and register, and most of all by its power. In composing the piece, I was looking to bring to the fore all these attributes: to compose a work that is approaching a modern day concerto in design but where the orchestra is now an electroacoustic fixed media score. The fixed media is composed using solely samples from Sarah’s ‘beast’ (plus a glass goblet) and the main digital processing tool was Kyma.
The work is in one movement with a number of distinct sections. After the opening prelude where the musical material is first heard there are three distinct and charged rhythmic sections – interspersed with more declamatory material. The final section moves into a coda that reprises some of the opening elements.
The work’s title and inspiration comes from an Alice Oswald poem, “Cold Streak”, from her collection Falling Awake which, among other things,explores the relentlessness of time – ‘dazzling stubbornness of the sun keeping to its clock’ and the weightedness of hope and the lightness of patience. Falling and heaviness interplaying with lightness and the cold sunlit light that gives weight are resonances musically extemporized here.
Sarah Watts gave the first Performance at Soundings (part of the Sounds Agenda series)
Supported by the University of Sheffield Faculty of Arts and Humanities
DINA Venue, Sunday 29th April 2018